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Weekend preview: Moulson debuts, Canucks crashing and Rangers-Wings on NBC

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A quick look ahead at some of the narratives at play this weekend…

Moulson debuts

Matt Moulson will play his first game for Minnesota on Saturday when the Wild take on the Stars in Dallas.

The former Sabres sniper — acquired at Wednesday’s trade deadline — is a three-time 30-goal scorer that should provide a huge boost for the goal-starved Wild. Minnesota only has 153 goals this year (24th in the NHL) with just two players, Jason Pominville and Zach Parise, in the 20-plus category. Moulson’s 17 instantly puts him third on the team.

Based on practices, it looks as though Moulson will debut on Minnesota’s second line alongside Charlie Coyle and captain Mikko Koivu. Wild head coach Mike Yeo was excited about the versatility Moulson brought to the lineup, noting he added depth among the top two lines.

“I liked the look of them before we went out on the ice and I liked the look of them after we came off the ice, too,” Yeo told the Star-Tribune. “I thought there was real good energy in our practice today. Obviously guys are excited.

“We felt really good about our team and where we were at going into this trade deadline and we feel that we’re a strong team now, we’re a deeper team. So we’re excited to put it to work now.”

Minnesota’s other new additions — Cody McCormick and Ilya Bryzgalov — are also likely to be in the mix on Saturday. McCormick has a shot to draw in on the Wild’s fourth line, while Bryzgalov will serve as Darcy Kuemper’s backup.

Canucks crashing

Vancouver is 1-8-1 in its last 10 and, on Thursday, was smashed 6-1 by Dallas — a team the Canucks are chasing for the final wild card playoff spot in the Western Conference. To the observer, it looked as though Vancouver players had all but quit on beleaguered head coach John Tortorella; the flop came shortly after a listless 1-0 loss in Phoenix and the contentious Roberto Luongo trade.

Vancouver will look to try and get back on track Saturday when it takes on Calgary at Rogers Arena. This, of course, will be the first time the two taems met since Tortorella tried to attack Flames head coach Bob Hartley on Jan. 18, an incident that netted Torts a lengthy suspension.

NHL on NBC

The Rangers and Red Wings will meet for the third and final time this season on Sunday (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC). If the first two games were any indication, Sunday’s affair should be tight — the Rangers won the first meeting in OT (3-2) and the second was an old-fashioned goalie duel as the Blueshirts beat Detroit 1-0 on the strength of Henrik Lundqvist’s 38-save shutout.

Quick wins in his return, Kings rally versus Ducks

Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar, of Slovenia, and goalie Jonathan Quick congratulate each other after defeating the Dallas Stars in an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016, in Los Angeles. The Kings won 3-2. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
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Welcome back, Jonathan Quick.

Starting for the first time since Oct. 12 — an absence of 59 games due to a groin injury — Quick was solid in his return against the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday. He stopped 32 shots, allowing for the Kings to eventually find some offense in a 4-1 victory over their California rivals.

The Kings trailed going into the third period, but came alive with four unanswered goals for an important win in the Western Conference playoff race. Tyler Toffoli scored twice and Jeff Carter secured the win with his 30th goal of the season — after he appeared dazed in a fight with Ryan Kesler earlier in the game.

In typical fashion, tempers boiled over between these two teams. In typical fashion, Corey Perry was once again at the center of the mayhem. He tripped Anze Kopitar in the second period, leading to a melee before Brayden McNabb and Nate Thompson paired off in the main event.

“I think the game kind of led to the third. I thought we were playing great leading up to it,” said Quick, per LA Kings Insider.

“We were creating chances, played hard, heavy and I think if we don’t play like that in the first two periods we don’t get four in the third so we got rewarded for our work over 60 minutes.”

Again, this is a big win for the Kings.

Getting back into the top three in the Pacific Division seems like a tall, if not impossible order with 21 games remaining on their schedule and only four wins in their last 10 games. Anaheim, third in the division, is 10 points ahead.

But this win does help the Kings in their bid for a wild card spot.

They are only three points back of St. Louis for the final playoff spot in the conference. Nashville was victorious over Washington a few hours after L.A. defeated Anaheim, so the Predators move into third in the Central.

Quick winning in his return is huge news for the Kings. But more importantly, the players they rely on for offensive production came through. Kopitar had two assists. Carter had a two-point night. Ditto for Toffoli. Tanner Pearson had three assists.

It’s been a lack of production from top players that coach Darryl Sutter has lamented during his team’s recent struggles.

“It’s the only way we’re going to make the playoffs. Those guys held scoreless or shut down or outplayed by the other team’s top guys, we won’t make the playoffs,” said Sutter.

“They have to.”

WATCH LIVE: Flyers at Penguins from Heinz Field

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 15: Claude Giroux #28 of the Philadelphia Flyers and Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins go toe-to-toe prior to fighting during the first period in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center on April 15, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins are going to take their rivalry outside on Saturday.

The Flyers visit the Penguins in a Stadium Series clash at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, beginning at 8 p.m. ET. You can catch the action on NBC or online with the NBC Sports Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

Goalie nods: Murray, Neuvirth get the call at Heinz Field

Kris Letang won’t play in outdoor game; Schultz game-time decision

NHL On NBC: Penguins, Flyers meet in Stadium Series

Giroux: ‘It’s all business’ between Penguins and Flyers at Heinz Field

We have a (minor league) trade to announce: Coyotes and Bolts swap AHL forwards

NEWARK, NJ - JUNE 30:  Vice President & General Manager, Alternate Governor Steve Yzerman of the Tampa Bay Lightning looks on during the 2013 NHL Draft at the Prudential Center on June 30, 2013 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The Tampa Bay Lightning and Arizona Coyotes have made a minor league trade.

The Bolts on Saturday acquired right winger Stefan Fournier from the Coyotes in exchange for right winger Jeremy Morin, who has played 82 career NHL games between the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets.

Fournier stands six-foot-three-inches tall and 226 pounds. He has two goals and four points in 29 games with the Tuscon Roadrunners in the AHL.

Morin, who has spent the majority of his pro career in the Blackhawks organization, has been a productive minor league player over the years. He has nine goals and 21 points in 43 games this season with the Syracuse Crunch in the AHL.

 

 

Blue Jackets chase Greiss from Islanders net

FILE - In this March 12, 2016, file photo, New York Islanders goalieThomas Greiss pauses during the team's NHL hockey game against the Boston Bruins in Boston. Greiss has received the bulk of the starts after starting goalie Jarsolav Halak was injured last month. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)
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The New York Islanders entered today with a three-game winning streak and holders of the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

But yeah, it’s been a disastrous start for the Islanders on Saturday. The Blue Jackets scored three times in the first period, chasing Thomas Greiss from the New York net after he stopped 14 of 17 shots faced.

Jean-Francois Berube entered the game to begin the second period and promptly surrendered a goal to Josh Anderson, who scored his 12th of the season.